The Illusionist

Inspired by today’s one-word prompt: conjure.

Conjuring involves a series of mind tricks, usually by deceiving the eyes or calling attention to everything but the action itself. I picture card games and long streams of ribbons, black suit sleeves. I imagine pennies in ear lobes and rabbits in hats.

If I think for long enough, I conjure up an image of you.

I listened to everything you said. I watched the way your lips parted, how your tongue brushed your teeth. While your lashes blinked over your pupils, I saw the dimples in your chin. I didn’t see much else until much later.

There were a series of chain reactions that led to me learning the magician’s secrets. None of those matter now that the magic is gone. When people say that actions speak louder than words, believe them. Abracadabra and I love you sounded a lot alike when he said them.

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Final Girls

Inspired by today’s one-word prompt: Glorious

I plucked hair as blue as night off the vomit-stained sweater in my lap, focusing on the tic tac clap of my roommate’s pacing sandals. The ER doors stretched open, presenting the yawning nurse who led us back.

In the medicinal stillness of the hall, I thought of the cold outside and wrapped robe fingers around my waist. In the hospital bed, a boy from our hall lie unconscious as he threw up into a plastic bag tied around his neck. My roommate and I shared a sickened glance. I checked the time, a quarter past three A.M.

Two hours ago, we had been in bed.

“Did you see her Snapchat story?” My roommate showed me a video of a friend of a friend, some boy we knew passed out on the floor, people playing beer pong off his head.

“Is he okay?” I opened the app and went to view the story for myself. “I’m going to call her and see if he’s okay.”

Instead, I got voicemail and a drunken message that the boy’s roommate was driving him back to campus right now. Six minutes later, I got a call from his roommate that they were downstairs, and they needed help. My roommate and I threw on jackets, slid on sandals, and darted down dark stairs.

At the back entrance to our dorm, the boys were there pulling our inert friend onto the pavement. We ran up to them, grabbing shirts and making accusations.

“I can’t believe you drove here drunk.”

“He’s not moving. He hit his head; we carried him down three flights of stairs.”

“What happened?!”

“I don’t know. He was fine. Someone passed him a pipe, and then he passed out. He was drinking.”

They had all been drinking. Besides the sweet smell of half-digested Everclear, the bubbly texture of it chucked up on cotton shirts, I could see the drunkness in their eyes, the red lines of wrong decisions. The smell of gingerbread and weed and Christmas trees lingered as we all stood there trying to lift the guy back into the car as he coughed up more vomit.

“Keep his head up!” “He won’t open his eyes!” “Someone call an ambulance.”

When the police got there, we were all questioned. My roommate and I piled into whoever’s car had driven there and pushed whoever it was that wanted to come in the backseat. I drove to the hospital with the windows down, the two drunk guys in the backseat complaining that it was cold.

“It would be less cold if you kept your head inside the car,” I said.

“But I’m going to throw up,” they complained.

“Then you’re going to stay cold.”

Once we were allowed to see our friend, once we knew he would be okay, I stayed in the room with him waiting for his parents while my roommate went to babysit the other guys in the waiting room. I remember the moment his mom walked into the room, that glorious first sighting at 5 A.M., when I finally started to relax. When my roommate and I drove home at 5:30, knowing we both had finals at 8.